Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Newspaper Woes Continue: 3% Slide in Circulation

The Pew Research Center reports that newspaper circulation fell 3% in 2014 as compared to 2013. (Though 2013 was the only positive year in a decade long -47% slide in circulation.)
"After a year of slight gains, newspaper circulation fell again in 2014 (though tracking these data is becoming more complicated each year due to measurement changes)[*]. Revenue from circulation rose, but ad revenue continued to fall, with gains in digital ad revenue failing to make up for falls in print ad revenue. Despite widespread talk of a shift to digital, most newspaper readership continues to be in print."
Total revenue has fallen from $46.1 billion in 2003 to $20.7 billion in 2013**--about a 55% drop. Interestingly, newsroom employment has not dropped as fast as revenue. It went from 54,200 employees in 2003 to 36,700 in 2013--only a 32% drop. So, newsroom employees have felt only about half the impact of the drop in newspaper revenue.

The sad story is perhaps told best by the drop in daily readership by age. There has been a significant drop in newspaper readership among all age groups since 2000, but especially among those under the age of 45.Currently those under 45 are half as likely to read a newspaper as their under 45 counterparts in 2003.

2003 daily newspaper readership:
18-24 year olds - 40%
25-34 year olds - 41%
35-44 year olds - 50%
45-54 year olds - 59%
55-64 year olds - 64%
age 65+ - 71%

2014 daily newspaper readership:
18-24 year olds - 17%
25-34 year olds - 20%
35-44 year olds - 23%
45-54 year olds - 32%
55-64 year olds - 40%
age 65+ -  52%

The only bright spot for Oregon newspapers is that the Oregonian is in the "Top 25 Newspapers by Digital Traffic" coming in at number 21 with 6,339,000 unique visitors in January, 2015. Unhappily, that doesn't translate into actual circulation since the Oregonian doesn't make the top 25 in digital circulation.

The Alliance for Audited Media remains useless for daily circulation numbers, but Pew Research gamely puts together a top 25 list for Sunday newspapers. Here are the top 25 in Sunday circulation and Sunday digital circulation:

Total circulation, Sunday edition, September 2014:
The New York Times - 2,502,367
Los Angeles Times - 965,598
Houston Chronicle - 925,065
The Detroit News and Free Press - 835,661
The Washington Post - 776,806
Chicago Tribune - 769,215
The Dallas Morning News - 707,792
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - 665,056
San Jose Mercury News - 634,001
(MN) Star Tribune - 589,725
The Denver Post - 573,542
(NY) Daily News - 558,057
(NY) Newsday - 510,683
The Philadelphia Inquirer - 497,142
(CA) Daily News - 491,480
The Arizona Republic - 462,477
New York Post - 454,007
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - 438,058
(OH) The Plain Dealer - 397,891
Chicago Sun-Times - 387,604
The Boston Globe - 377,405
(NJ) The Star-Ledger - 359,820
The Seattle Times - 352,131
Tampa Bay Times - 350,216
U-T San Diego - 334,723

Digital circulation, Sunday edition, September 2014:
The New York Times - 1,321,207
Los Angeles Times - 280,125
New York Post - 238,655
(NY) Newsday - 217,816
The Denver Post - 153,682
Chicago Tribune - 146,448
(NY) Daily News - 145,497
The Philadelphia Inquirer - 138,800
The Dallas Morning News - 121,917
(NJ) The Star-Ledger - 119,494
The Salt Lake Tribune - 109,568
(UT) Deseret News - 101,094
The Boston Globe - 94,965
(OH) The Plain Dealer - 80,799
Chicago Sun-Times - 76,716
Honolulu Star-Advertiser -72,491
San Jose Mercury News - 71,440
Houston Chronicle - 71,087
(MN) Star Tribune - 67,573
The Seattle Times - 66,347
Saint Paul Pioneer Press - 59,915
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - 50,645
San Francisco Chronicle - 43,636
(MD) The Sun - 42,982
(WI) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - 42,612

One presumes that subtracting the Sunday digital circulation from the Sunday total circulation for newspapers on both lists will give the print circulation. But, that is iffy given the Alliance for Audited Media's bizarre circulation metrics.
*Due to Alliance for Audited Media's measuring changes.
**Total Revenue in 2014 was $19.9 billion--a -$0.8 billion drop from 2013.


MAX Redline said...

I believe that a lot of readership of print is related to generational issues: my parents still subscribe to a newspaper, and I grew up reading them as well. But in those days, newspapers printed - well, news - not just mostly ads and opinion pieces.

And kids in the 30 and under range have never known a world in which smartphones and the internet didn't exist.

T. D. said...

Yes, the future 20 to 30 years out looks especially bleak for newspapers, both print and digital because the format is all wrong.

Two things caught my attention in the Pew studies. One was that layoffs at newsrooms do not yet fully reflect the revenue plunge.

The second is that younger folks get a lot of their new via Facebook. http://www.journalism.org/2015/06/01/millennials-political-news/

This says to me that an important part of paid news consumption is entertainment. For the younger generation Facebook combines news with social interaction. For people like you and me, the newspaper no longer entertains. And what news is there has to be filtered, amplified and corrected because of political and social biases of reporters and editors. Few, if any are Republicans, fewer yet are conservatives. They don't come close to mirroring the intellectual and religious values of most Americans. So, of course, they aren't good either at entertaining or at presenting a rounded view of the news.

OregonGuy said...

Paid circ data has been made unusable. Print orgs are out hawking data without a metric. And in their prime demo, it's more likely than not that one bothers to read their product any more.

In 1983,The Oregonian had one of the best business sections of any newspaper on the West Coast. Now?

Why bother?

MAX Redline said...

The newsroom layoffs don't fully reflect the plunge, TD - because they have to get stories written and posted on the websites. But I've noticed that The Oregonian very often gets its news from Willamette Week and Portland Mercury.

As well, the use of Facebook as a news source is a pretty recent development; they only got their "news feed" running a few months ago. But the kids are, by all available metrics, checking their phones at least every 30 minutes.

And as OG notes, circ data are now pretty useless. If you look at The Oregonian (especially since Advance acquired them), there's little useful content in the print version, and "reporters" have website quotas to meet. That's not conducive to reportage.

T. D. said...

Sigh. Why bother, indeed, OG. There is some good reporting, but too little too seldom. I have liberal friends who get Wed/Sun for a fairly low price and digital access to the rest for free. They called recently to say they'd like to just get the digital, and the price for that was two or three times what they were paying. Go figure that business model.

Max, I can't figure out the economics of laying off staff (I assume the most expensive part of putting the paper together) at half the rate (32%) of their loss (55%). That's a 23% difference. Where do they get the money? Though I see your point that without reporters they don't have a product to sell.

I think the Facebook news they are talking about is what comes from other users rather than Facebook itself. At least I hope so. It would be horrible to have Facebook as an entity with that kind of power.

"Viewed in the context of the ongoing debate over political polarization in social media, for example, it is the Facebook users in the oldest of the three generations studied here who are most likely to see political content on the site that supports their own views: 31% of Baby Boomers on Facebook who pay attention to political posts say the posts they see are mostly or always in line with their own views, higher than both Generation Xers (21%) and Millennials (18%). At the same time, though, Baby Boomers are the least reliant on this platform as a source for their news – meaning that at least at the moment, this affects a smaller share of them. And, across all three generations, most Facebook users who pay attention to political content do, in fact, see views on the site that aren’t in line with their own."

MAX Redline said...

Facebook has added a news aggregation app, from my understanding, TD - although I don't use FB much; just when someone shoots me an email from the site.

As for staff layoffs - take a look at the Oregonian site. Most of their "reporters" now seem to be 20-somethings, which equals cost savings when compared to retaining the experienced staff. Especially since the kids love social media.

T. D. said...

I forgot about the age/seniority difference. That does make a big difference both economically and in a poor quality product. :-/

I shudder to think that Facebook aggregator would become the news source for a significant swath of the young.

MAX Redline said...

Yep - I can only think of maybe three senior staff remaining at the O - and one of them's a columnist. Ted Sickinger and Jeff Mapes can usually be counted upon to turn in some decent, actual reportage, but the others - not so much.

T. D. said...

I also like Rick Bella--but I have personal contacts on some of the stories he has done and so have an "inside" perspective. I think he's smart, fair and has a good heart.